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    October 04, 2007

    T is to GLB as mascara is to…

    Posted by: Chris

    Dragqueeneyelashes Crack open those SAT brain cells because a few useful analogies help illustrate why it's so wrong -- politically, logically and morally -- for gay Americans to be saddled with a "trans or bust" strategy for passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

    Robingavinnewsome_2 First off, Robin Tyler, the respected longtime lesbian activist (comedian and tour organizer) who headed up the 1987 and 2000 marches on Washington, offered up one in an email to me based on her own relationships with transgender friends:

    I support full transgender rights.  However, when I have been invited to legal weddings of some of my transgender friends, not one of them has said, "We will not get married until Diane and you and other same sex couples can get married."  They did not sacrifice on the alter of political correctness, the state and federal benefits of marriage.  And yet, with regard to ENDA, the lesbian and gay community is expected to do so, leaving millions and millions of us in the majority of states, once again, unprotected.

    Even Brad and Angelina and Charlize Theron and her boyfriend have pledged not to marry until we can, but none of us would dream of forcing transgender couples who can marry today to wait until we can as well.

    The trans-ENDA debate is also raging over at Immigration Equality's blog, where Ben Gardent -- a frequent commenter to this blog -- came up with a fantastic analogy that shows why IE should never have signed on to the Task Force letter with 100 signatory groups opposing gay-specific ENDA.

    Even though the leaders in Congress on immigration reform -- including leading Democrats and gay former Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) -- refused to include the Uniting American Families Act to comprehensive immigration reform. UAFA would extend to gay Americans the same right to sponsor non-American partners for residence as straight Americans have.

    Immigration Equality nonetheless was an enthusiastic coalition partner for immigration reform because it was good coalition politics and breaking the logjam on immigration reform was important to bringing UAFA up to the plate.  Gay immigration rights supporters also recognized the reality that more work needed (and still needs) to be done to build political support for UAFA.

    GENDA is to ENDA as UAFA is to comprehensive immigration reform in this analogy.  (GENDA is Barney Frank's cleverly named version of ENDA covering only "gender identity.")  Transgender rights supporters are actually even ahead of gay immigration rights backers, since they got GENDA included in ENDA until Barney and House Democrats realized the votes weren't there.  (Though I'm not at all convinced there's any more support for transsexual workplace rights than there is for gay and lesbian Americans who want to sponsor foreign partners.)

    Regardless, rather than be good coalition partners, transgender activists focused instead on guilting and leveraging their gay group allies to hold off on any legislation until gender identity can be passed as well.  That sort of demand is not only political suicide, as Barney has pointed out, but downright immoral, just as it would have been coming from gays in the immigration debate (even though more of us would be helped by UAFA than trans folks by GENDA).

    Finally, my friend Don George -- another regular commenter here (ask him for his alias) and over on IE's blog -- makes one more analogy, this one to the Vermont gays who agreed to civil unions as a compromise when that state's court told the legislature in 1999 to pick between civil unions and marriage:

    Had the Vermont folks told their legislature “no” to the civil unions compromise…. that they would hold out for marriage, would we be better off now than we are? Has the precedent been set for civil unions as a cop out and it makes the road to marriage equality so much harder?

    I think there's no question the Vermont folks make the right call, though I'm not suggesting compromise is always the right option. At least where Vermont and civil unions were concerned, it was all about whether they had built the political support for the issue at hand: legal recognition of gay relationships.

    In this case, even though it’s clear that political support has been there for years for employment protection based on sexual orientation, gay Americans are being told that they now must wait an indefinite additional time until support is there for transsexuals, transvestites and cross-dressers and the like.



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    1. Amicus on Oct 5, 2007 2:07:22 AM:

      ...gay Americans to be saddled with a "trans or bust" strategy for passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

      CC, I like to listen to what you have to say, but you're whipping yourself into an unseemly frenzy on this.

      First, the reference to "mascara", while seemingly playful or artful on your part, is seems wrong, in many ways. Seriously, you've got to come up the curve. TG isn't about being a drag Queen, 'officially', so to speak... You may not think it is, but you are definitely giving off that impression (to me at least, who do not know you well).

      As for all or nothing, this is precisely the posture that should be taken on a Bill that is going up to get vetoed anyway.

      If there is a time to compromise, now is not it.

      If there is a way to compromise, it is to let the Congress do it, not to divide a community against itself to satisfy their lack of moral leadership.

      My 2-cents is that it's really that simple.

    1. Jack Jett on Oct 5, 2007 12:57:52 PM:

      With all due respect to Robin Tyler, the struggle of my transgender friends has been far more horrendous than those of gay men and lesbians.

      It is a little late in the day for Ms. Tyler to make this weak argument. If she felt this way, she should have spoke up prior to the battle.

      Throwing our transgender friends under the bus because some right wing shithole doesn't understand it seems a bit hypocritical.

      Jack Jett

    1. Sean on Oct 5, 2007 1:09:24 PM:

      Misery loves company. If the transgender people don't get exactly what they want they will bring gay people down with them. Transgendered people are protected by law from discrimination based on gender. If transgender people refuse or can't afford to have all the surgery to make them the gender they want then that's their problem. Gender identity is just a bonus for them.

    1. Rachel Owens on Oct 5, 2007 3:09:10 PM:

      "Transgendered people are protected by law from discrimination based on gender."

      Uh...no, we're not.

      "If transgender people refuse or can't afford to have all the surgery to make them the gender they want then that's their problem"

      How am I supposed to when I've been fired three times for being trans? Literally I went from good job reviews, to being outted, to being fired a week later. You can't afford 50,000 of surgery if you can't WORK.

    1. Jon on Oct 5, 2007 3:18:06 PM:

      Since ENDA has been in the news more I am saddened and disgusted by the amount of bigotry and finger pointing coming from gay men towards trans people. So many appear to think they are more deserving of rights and protections under the law because why?; Being gay is much more universally understood than those transgenders? Yeah, sure - those homophobes when they hear the word gay don't think "ah, those gays just want the right to love each other like we love the opposite sex", they think "buttf**kers" and "freaks". Since I hope that gay men understand what it's like to be treated like second class citizens then should we look down our noses at transpeople the way straights look at us? We should remember that some of us can move in stealth mode much more easily than a trans gender person, feminine acting gays or butch lesbians for that matter. Why are we better than them? I, for one, am willing to wait until trans people are included in the bill. I am for human rights of all, not just members of the group I identify with the most.

      Oh, and Sean; I find Your comments to be cruel and insensitive and I'm assuming you're a gay man. Try learning about the entire process that a transperson must go through when they sincerely believe they are living in the wrong body before you pass judgement.

    1. Mark Hertzog on Oct 5, 2007 4:39:53 PM:

      Chris, much as I respect you, you're 100% off-base on this. The creep who beat you up in Amsterdam didn't do so because of your sexual orientation per se, but because you dared to walk hand in hand in public with your partner--and trangressed the "law" of gender expression that a man may display affection for a woman, but not for another man. Removing gender expression from ENDA does not merely abandon my transgender friends (which I won't do). It undercuts the very basis of the law as it applies to you and me, which is to guarantee the freedom of the butchest gay or bi man, and the femmest lesbian or bi woman, to be ourselves and to show our love in normal, everyday ways to the ones we love most. Please think again.

    1. Citizen Crain on Oct 5, 2007 5:00:14 PM:

      Mark, I disagree about what happened in Amsterdam. Maybe at some subconscious or even theoretical level, homophobia has to do with gender constructs and such, but I got my ass kicked because I was gay, not because I "transgressed the law of gender."

      And as I've written about many times on this blog, your legal analysis of ENDA is incorrect. Lambda Legal would never have backed gay-specific ENDA for a decade if it were so easily avoided by claiming a gay employee was challenging gender roles. Plus we know the US Supreme Court has specifically ruled that Title VII prohibits workplace bias of that sort.

    1. Darlie on Oct 6, 2007 10:21:41 PM:

      Stop with your Title VII Chris.

      "10th Circuit Denies Title VII Protection to Transsexual Plaintiff

      In Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority, 2007 WL 2774160 (10th Cir. Sept. 20, 2007), the Tenth Circuit ruled that a transsexual is not protected by Title VII as a class and that this particular plaintiff could not establish "Price Waterhouse" gender non-conformity discrimination."

      You say it doesn't protect you but it protects us when you know that isn't true. You try and have your cake and eat it too. Men holding hands is non gender conformity. Lambda backed ENDA because they knew that every Title VII case would be open to the interpretation of the specific court. It wasn't good enough for them but it's good enough for us according to you.

      Again Chris , how can TG's get murdered by homophobes who use the Gay Panic Defense ? How is it we have so little in common according to you and yet our murderers are homophobes ? Explain that would you for everyone here.

      Now I'm going to tell a little story of mine. At eight years old I was on a sleepover at my grandmothers with my sister when her gay foster child took me out of bed and molested me in his room. What followed years after were nightmares and night sweats. I blocked it out completely until in my 20's when the bastard came back and asked me point blank if I remembered it. Now I should hate every gay man I meet but I learned that all people are different and that hating groups only apply when people are acting like mobs . It's something important to learn.

      I also carry four stainless steel pins in my hip from a homophobe when I was ten . The entire left side of my body was black and blue and it wasn't till months later when the limp didn't go away that the doctors discovered the attack was so violent that he had torn my left hip out the socket, By that time it had ground of the entire cup holding the hip in. I was supposed to be crippled but the pins held and I walked again .I carry a ten inch scar on my hip to remind me every day Chris so don't feel alone.

      I'm sorry you got beaten up , no one should have the right to do that to anyone . I doubt that you would have been beaten if your partner had been a woman.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Oct 8, 2007 1:13:06 PM:

      LOL....and again, Darlie, do you really expect a court to establish a legal precedent that claims requiring people to use the appropriate public restroom is "sex stereotyping"?

      "Again Chris , how can TG's get murdered by homophobes who use the Gay Panic Defense ?"

      Easy. It's only invoked -- when it still can be invoked, which isn't often -- when a person is found to be of the same gender as the person claiming it. If you were talking a transitioned transsexual, by definition, it couldn't be.

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